Highlights from International Womens Day Girls Empowerment Conference


NatWest Bishopsgate graciously hosted the 10th Rocking Ur Teens Conference for a number of schools, with guests travelling from as far as Somerset to join the fun.

Remel London was the warm and energetic host for the day, who kick-started proceedings by encouraging the teens to join the “Rocking Ur Teens” chant, before welcoming DanceWest onto the stage.

DanceWest got everyone out of their seats with some warm up moves, followed by a dance routine, finishing off with a Mexican wave – they successfully motivated the guests into action, igniting the energy for the day ahead.

The first speaker to take the floor was Sherah Beckley, who told her story from her school days in Ghana to her current role as a Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Specialist.  Sherah’s message to the audience was to be confident and to give yourself a chance.  She reminded the girls that there was no-one else like them in the world, and that they should focus on what made them unique, and to aim high.

Remel then encouraged a Q&A session based around Sherah’s speech, before introducing the next guest.

Jillian ‘JJ’ Simmons had flown in from Houston, Texas and was in London for the first time.  Her compassion and encouragement was clear from the way she engaged the audience, putting it to them that they should aspire to be the best version of themselves, and could change the world if they wanted to.  JJ asked everyone to consider the use of words, and how the most powerful words were the one’s we chose to use about ourselves.  She championed the benefit of affirmation, and told the girls not to loose themselves by comparing themselves to others.  Her message was that the world should not convince you what is important, and that you should embrace your uniqueness to become the best you.

Nick Howe, Regional Enterprise Manager for NatWest Business Banking then took to the floor.  He talked to the girls about entrepreneurship, and said that everyone should have the courage to earn doing what they are good at.  There are approximately 5.7m SME’s in the UK currently, and Nick talked about the benefits of running your own business, followed by a powerful video entitled  “Choose Beautiful” to demonstrate how people perceive themselves.

Remel then hosted a Panel session, with female employees from NatWest, Sage, Hermes, Coca-Cola and Visa.  Each panel member gave a summary of their job, whether it matched their hopes and aspirations as a teen, and how they compared their outlook now with their outlook when they were the same age as the audience.  With a unified voice, they told the audience to always set boundaries; not to worry what friends thought, but to do what they wanted to do; and not let anyone tell you that your ideas were wrong.

Jillian Kowalchuck was the next speaker, who gave the girls as fascinating insight into the world of A.I through her role as Founder and CEO of Safe & The City.  Jillian gave a detailed insight into the importance of Artificial Intelligence in today’s world, with examples of how it is relevant in the day-to-day life of the conference guests.  Whilst delivering her speech, Jillian encouraged the girls to believe in themselves and gave the proposition that as her work demonstrated, it was possible to turn an experience into an idea, then to turn that idea into a business.

Remel then engaged with the audience by encouraging them to give feedback with comments that had resonated them during the day.  The guests confidently shared a wide range of views, all of which demonstrated a clear interest and understanding of what they were being told.

Next, Remel introduced the Armed Forces Diversity Engagement Team who represented the Royal Navy, Air Force and Army.  The team played a “myth busting” video to showcase life in the Armed Forces, then each gave a summary of their jobs, emphasising the variety and reward that each role had created.  The team shared the benefits of working in the Armed Forces, advising the audience that it created confidence and leadership skills, as they all had to take on challenges in their working life that demonstrated the importance of positive influence on others.

As the Conference was brought to a close, the talented singer songwriter Sherika Sherard played us out.  She gave a brief talk, encouraging the girls to follow their passion, to work hard, and that each person should find what made them feel 100% them.  Sherika engaged the audience with a selection of beautifully written and performed songs, finishing the Conference with well-deserved and heartfelt applause.

A huge thank you to Sarah Watson, who volunteered at this event, and for this fantastic writeup!

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